plumb line


“Let each one examine his own work. Then he can take pride in himself and not compare himself with someone else” (Galatians 6:4, New English Translation).

We can take a deep breath and get back to a semblance of normal with the hurry and scurry of the holidays now behind us. I’m not one to make a lot of New Year’s resolutions (which many have already abandoned by Week Two of the year), but it is a good time to reflect on areas of my life that show growth or need improvement.

An Honest Self-examination

While employed, I faced the dreaded annual review. I felt I was a good employee, but I didn’t enjoy completing a self-evaluation before meeting with my supervisor. Self-evaluation requires honesty when viewing our actions and habits. We often see ourselves differently than others see us.

I also wonder if I see myself as God sees me. The Bible says the heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). Am I blinded to my own shortcomings?  Have I grown in my spiritual life? In what areas can I improve? Believe me—there’s always room for growth and improvement!

The Plumb Line

In the Old Testament book of Amos, the prophet and God hold a conversation (Amos 7:7-8). The Lord asks, “What do you see?” Amos sees He is holding a plumb line, a tool used since ancient times in construction to show if a wall is “plumb” or vertical. Our plumb line as a Christian is the character of the Lord. God does not judge us by comparing us to each other. He is our standard of comparison. The question is whether we are vertical or upright when measured against His holiness.

I jotted down some questions to help me focus on areas of my walk with God. Writing the questions was easier than answering them. I could make a longer list, but these create a good starting point in my evaluation.

  1. Have I experienced spiritual growth in the past year?
  2. Are there any areas in which I’ve become less diligent?
  3. Do I daily spend time in prayer and the Word?
  4. What fruit of the Spirit is evident in my life?
  5. Do I make excuses when I fail to obey God’s Word?
  6. Is my life a positive Christian witness to others?

(Note: You can also find more detailed spiritual formation evaluations online.)

While an annual spiritual evaluation is good, it’s even better to be constantly on guard that our lives reflect God’s character. What if we asked ourselves each day, “What can I do to better serve God today? This week? This month?” Frequent self-examination ensures we are living an overcoming life and are obedient to His Word.

Spiritual growth is a lifelong process. We grow or we die (John 15:2). We must never stop striving and growing.

Let’s all make Psalm 139:23-24 our daily prayer.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (NKJV).

 “He showed me this: The Lord was standing there by a vertical wall with a plumb line in his hand” (Amos 7:7, Christian Standard Bible).

Sometimes I become excited about a project before considering how much work it will entail. When I decided to paint stripes to create an accent wall, I knew it would take a while. I wasn’t in a rush, so it really didn’t matter. Or at least those were my thoughts on Day One. The project did start easily enough, but it wasn’t quick and certainly wasn’t easy. You can’t paint stripes without lines. Lines must be straight. They must be evenly spaced,  straight up and down, not drifting left or right. If one line went astray, it would be easy for others to follow. All of them had to be in plumb.

I needed some tools to get this right, so I gathered up a carpenter’s level, blue painter’s tape, a pencil, and a ruler. Oh, and a ladder to precariously balance upon. Many hours of work later, I had an (almost) perfectly striped wall. Fortunately, it was a very small wall, or I’d still be painting.

If you are like me, things need to be straight, aligned correctly, or they bother me. My eye will constantly go back to that one point of imperfection. Who wants to look at a shelf or picture with one corner tilted down? Or drive a car out of alignment? Or look at flooring not installed straight?

And who wants to live a life out of alignment with God? Not me.

It does take the right tools to keep our lives straight. We need the Word of God, a good prayer life, biblical preaching by our pastor, and fellowship with other believers. Just as I had to touch up some of my painted lines on the wall, many times I must work to get myself in plumb with God’s Word and His will. It can be time-consuming, and I may not always feel like making the effort. But I must. If one area of my life does not conform to the Word of God, then soon other areas will also be out of alignment. I cannot allow that to happen.

I must make the effort each day to be perfectly aligned. I want the favor of God upon my life. I want to make Heaven my eternal home.

I want to be in plumb with God’s measurement. I want to “live straight.”

“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14).

Prayer: Lord, Your Word is important to me. It is my plumb line, showing me areas of my life that are not aligned with Your will. Help me to always desire to live a life that conforms to Your commandments, a life that is pleasing to You. I seek Your favor upon my life every day.